I’m all for trying new things… especially new foods. As you know there’s a ton of foods I never considered trying until recently. Like cheese. I rarely ever had it, unless it was on my pizza or something. I never even had mac and cheese until college. Freshman year, Nathan heard that I hadn’t had it before. It’s not that I live under a rock or something. It just sounded gross to me. So he made me Easy Mac in the microwave. I instantly became addicted to it. It was before my cooking and blogging days so my standards were pretty low. Since then I think I’ve tried every variation of mac and cheese possible. Well this version is definitely on the top of my list. The butternut squash provides a creamy and somewhat sweet taste to the pasta. The cinnamon and paprika really help round off the flavors. But the bacon, ohhh the bacon. Best part of this dish. The smokiness of the bacon gives a nice contrast to the sweetness of the squash. I absolutely love it. I tried it once without the bacon and it was really good, but when I added the bacon I was in pure heaven. Plus let’s be serious, this is a great way to hide your vegetables in your meal. I won’t say it’s healthy, but it’s definitely healthier.
2 cups uncooked pasta (I used Fiori pasta)
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup butternut squash, cubed
1 to 1 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded (depending on how cheesy you like it)
2 tbsp cream cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp cinnamon
bacon bits (optional, but amazing)
Bring salted water to a boil. Add pasta and butternut squash. Cook according to the box (about 7-9 minutes depending on the kind of pasta you use). With a slotted spoon take out the butternut squash and put it in a bowl. It should be soft by now. Then, drain the pasta and then add it back to the pot. Mash the butternut squash with a fork and season with a pink of salt and pepper. Set aside. In a medium sized sauce pan, heat butter over medium low heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. The flour should be a light brown. Keep whisking to make sure that the flour doesn’t burn. Add the milk and whisk until no lumps remain. Add in the cheddar cheese, cream cheese, butternut squash, cinnamon and paprika. Stir until combined. Add in the pasta and bacon bits if using and mix well. Serve.
Makes 3-4 servings.
Source: Recipe from The College Culinarian